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The number of factors leading to turkey meat shortage

The number of factors leading to turkey meat shortage
The number of factors leading to turkey meat shortage 02:18

WACONIA, Minn. -- If you noticed that turkey is hit or miss at some delis and restaurants, you're not alone.

A number of factors have contributed to stores having turkey meat one day, and then being out for several days.
For some grocers, it's been an issue for weeks.

"Deli almost every week. Meat, veggies. Try to hit the outside ring as much as we can," said Lisa Andersen, shoper.

Andersen is on her weekly shopping trip to Mackenthun's in Waconia. Here, she can count on finding everything on her grocery list except deli turkey.

"I would say over the past two or three weeks here they've had a sign up saying there's a shortage. We've had some off-brands they don't normally carry. Sometimes they are completely out," said Andersen.

For Mackenthun's and other grocery stores, it really comes down to two things. Supply chain issues and the avian bird flu.

The Waconia store has been lucky because as a smaller company, they can pivot from one supplier to another when supply gets low. But even so, it's become a day to day guessing game.

"We aren't going to tell people we have turkey but we do right now. And as of tomorrow we won't because the most recent supplier we found now is out of turkey," said Ed Gardeski, general manager.

Minnesota is the No. 1 turkey producing state in the country. But Gardeski said supply chain issues have been a problem since the beginning of the pandemic, and this spring's wave of avian influenza only compounded the issue.

"The main supplier for our deli slicing meat is about 4 months out now with getting that product back in," said Gardeski.

While bird flu cases have dropped in Minnesota, there is concern a second wave of the flu could hit during fall migration. The good news is deli meat should eventually catch up, and the USDA is not anticipating a turkey shortage for Thanksgiving.

Gardeski, however, said consumers should think about placing their turkey orders earlier this year, just in case.

"It's going to be close this year if you want a big bird. If you want a big bird, find it now and go buy it," said Gardeski.
Eighty farms in Minnesota have been impacted by the bird flu.

About 75% of them are commercial turkey farms, but the number of infected birds is below what we saw in 2015.

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